Northamptonshire woman helps with rescue of stranded octopus

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A woman from Irthlingborough helped to rescue one of two octopuses found washed up on beaches on the North Norfolk coast.

The two lesser octopuses, a species more often found around the Scottish coast and west coast of England, were found several metres from the tide edge on adjacent beaches in the Norfolk resort of Heacham yesterday (Tuesday) and by different people.

It’s very rare to come across a single stranded octopus, let alone two

Kieran Copeland

One was discovered by visiting caravan owner 62-year-old Sue Bailey of College Street, Irthlingborough, when she nipped to the beach after closing up her caravan for the winter.

Sue said: “I’ve found all sorts down there in the past and even rang the sanctuary six months ago about a seal pup I came across, but this was the first ever octopus.

“I had come across them in rock pools on holiday in Greece before and even had one wrap itself round my leg, so I wasn’t in the least frightened by it.”

She called the marine experts at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary for help.

But as Sea Life displays supervisor Kieran Copeland dashed to the scene, his colleagues received a second phone call about another octopus on the next beach along.

Both were still alive and were safely transported back to the sanctuary where they are now under close observation in behind-the-scenes quarantine tanks.

Kieran said: “It’s very rare to come across a single stranded octopus, let alone two.

“We can only speculate on why they were out of the water on the beach. It really is a mystery.”

Lesser octopuses eat small crabs and shellfish and will sometimes follow migrating crabs south.

Like all octopuses they have three hearts, blue blood and a highly evolved brain which is shaped like a doughnut and positioned around the lower head, just above the beak-like mouth.

Kieran said: “They have a short life-span of around three years.

“It may be that these are elderly octopuses which have crawled ashore to die, but we hope not.

“They are amazing creatures and we’d love to get them fit and healthy and on public display so our visitors can admire them and learn about them.”

Although their genders are as yet unknown, Kieran and his colleagues hope to be able to name them Sue and Sunny, after the lady who found the first one, and her husband.